Pokémon Quest (Switch): COMPLETED!

Aha! Take that Nintendo! I completed your IAP’d up game without paying a single penny!

Although I should temper that with two things: 1) I never saw the need to pay any money, and 2) where do you even pay money anyway? It was, however, a bit of a grind for the last two worlds due to me not having any decent psychic or electric pokémon.

I think I probably spent around two-thirds of the entire time I played just trying the final few levels on worlds 9 and 10 over and over, slowly levelling up and gaining slightly better power stones, whilst making meals to coax more pokémon into my garden just to use them up in training.

After finally beating those levels, the final boss was actually a walkover taking just three attempts, and then that was it.

Now I’ve some sort of NG+ unlocked, but I don’t think I can be bothered with it. Pokémon Quest started out fun but if it wasn’t for the fact I could stick it on Auto and let it pretty much play itself I’d have given up on it quite some time ago. Even with that, I’ve had enough now.

Pool Panic (Switch): COMPLETED!

Pot as many balls as you can.

A lot of people say a lot of things about the Nintendo Switch, but I bet not many of them say this: it’s the console with my highest bought:completed ratio ever. Almost every game I buy for it, I complete. So that’s something.

Pool Panic is now added to that list, obviously, hence this post.

Imagine the balls from Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker. You know how they sort of come to life when you leave the controls alone? Well, now imagine each colour has a different personality, with some scared of the cue ball, and others chasing it, or jumping over it. Then, imagine that each level is a further deviation from a standard snooker or pool table. That’s Pool Panic.

The first couple of levels resemble standard pool. A green rectangular table with pockets, and you pot all the coloured balls before going for the black. But then, things get stranger. Some of the balls are dogs. Or spiders. Or zombies. The table becomes a scout camp-out or the line for ice cream. Pool is ditched almost entirely for crazy golf. Giant fish eat the balls. There are pirates and monsters and knights and aside from the basic premise – pot the colours, then the black – the game becomes very little like pool at all.

And it’s great. It’s funny, varied and nonsensical, and unlike pretty much any other game you’ve ever played.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

And yet another Lego game beaten. This one was pretty good fun, focussing mainly on Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy and a lot of less well known heroes (and foes). The plot is stupid and has Kang taking various different Marvel locations, universes and time zones and creating Chronopolis by smashing them all together.

What that means is there’s a lot of variety in the levels, with some really geeky references to the comics. Other than that, there’s the whole of Chronopolis to wander round just as you could Manhattan in the original game, with a daunting number of gold bricks to find.

Not sure what else there is to say. There’s little new in the game, but that has never mattered before. The graphics have that same odd light sourcing that Lego Ninjago The Movie also did making some levels very dark and others look a bit strange, but it’s not as bad here as it was there. I wonder if it’s only the way the engine runs on the Switch? Or that I’m only playing in 720p? Who knows.

Anyway, done.

The Count Lucanor (Switch): COMPLETED!

One stealth section too many – ah ha ha! Two stealth sections too many – ah ha ha! etc.

I’d been eying this up for a while and it being on sale right now twisted my arm. And, well. it’s not as good as I hoped.

To be fair, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. It looked like a more puzzle based Zelda type game, when in fact there are very few puzzles and instead it’s a talk-to-people game with some annoying stealth sections.

Now, I dislike stealth sections at the best of times, but these are made worst by the random nature of the creatures you have to hide from and get past. Sometimes they see you. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they wander aimlessly, in circles or into corners where they seem to get stuck. It’s like there’s no pathfinding AI at all.

That aside, the rest of the game is fine. It’s a Grimm style fairytale of a 10 year old boy who leaves home to find his fortune, ends up in a cursed castle, and has to find the name of a weird kobold by solving rooms to obtain the letters and then put them in the right order.

There’s a wonderfully bizarre collection of characters, like a man who is a pig and a goatherder who is decapitated by his own bloodthirsty goats, but the main gameplay is hide and seek and far too simple item manipulation so the quality isn’t consistent.

It’s a shame. It looks great, and the whispering of the “servants” who try to grab you is superbly creepy, but half the game wasn’t really for me. There are multiple endings, of which I think I’ve seen the best two, but I won’t be returning for the others.

OPUS: The Day We Found Earth (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a game with a nice little story wrapped up with a “find the right dot in a load of dots” mechanic. You’re a robot, and your creator has tasked you with finding Earth, which involves a lot of looking at the galaxy through a telescope and zooming in on specific star systems.

To find these systems you’re sometimes given coordinates, or a direction to look in, or a particular region of space. Later on, the location descriptions become even more vague. Find the system specified, and you’re told how close to a match for Earth the planets there are, and then you move on. It felt a bit like a cut down No Man’s Sky in point-and-click adventure form.

It’s a basic premise, and very short. That’s probably for the best, though, as it’d become boring rather quickly otherwise. Thankfully, the scanning is punctuated with story exposition and really that’s what the purpose of the game’s existence is – explaining why they’re looking for Earth and finding out what happened to, well, I won’t ruin it.

OPUS: The Day We Found Earth is unusual, short, very easy and somewhat charming. Not an essential purchase at all, but it’s cheap (under £5, although I paid about £2.70 from the Japanese eShop) and certainly worth a play through.

Scribblenauts Showdown (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’d heard that this was a party game based diversion from the main Scribblenauts series, so wasn’t going to get it. But it was £10 and I thought, how bad can it be? Luckily, not as bad as I was expecting.

The party game mode is the main purpose it exists (and is actually pretty good, considering), but there’s also a “Sandbox” mode which is a simplistic approximation of the previous Scribblenauts games. A number of levels with ten tasks in each to do – make a helicopter fly, give the Buddha an offering, put the right animals in the zoo exhibits, etc. It’s this mode that I completed.

So it’s not as good as the earlier titles, but it’s OK. I suspect 5th Cell, the original developers, had very little to do with this and it shows. Shame.

Metropolis: Lux Obscura (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s the age old story: Man released from prison, man tries to find the reason he was framed, man gets caught up with the mafia, man visits strippers, man fights everyone and everything via the medium of a Match 3 puzzle game. We’ve seen it so many times before.

And that’s exactly what this is. There’s a branching story, with four endings (three of which I’ve seen so far), a lot of violence and somewhat graphic sex. Also, swearing. So much swearing. This is a game on a Nintendo console, lest ye forget.

The art style and animation is great, sort of like Sin City in the way it’s low on colour and high on gritty comicbook bleakness. The story is bobbins, however, and the game is incredibly short so even though you meet many characters your interactions are minimal and after maybe six or seven “fights”, it’s the end.

After each fight you can choose one from a random selection of stat boosts (more health, more damage dealt, better healing, etc.) but since you’ll come to the end of the game before any of them are really necessary what you choose is pretty pointless.

It’s a shame. Similar games, like HuniePop, Puzzle & Dragons and Puzzle Quest are all much, much longer even though their stories need not be. Here, after three hours I’ve seen all bar one ending and the plot could really have done with more meat. Make it three times as long, and Metropolis Lux Obscura could be a 4/5 title, but sadly it’s so lacking content it sorely needs (and feels like it should have done but the devs cut it short) it’s a 2/5 at most. The gameplay is there. The style is there. The game just isn’t.

Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion (Switch): COMPLETED!

All inklusive.

A totally new single player story mode for Splatoon 2? Well why not. The single player was, in my opinion, the best bit of the game, and this new expansion doesn’t disappoint.

Taking the form of a Tube-like underground railway, with each station a level, your Octoling character needs to find the Four Things so they can escape back to the surface. Each level is different, testing your skills in varied ways. In one, you might have to navigate platforms with only a limited amount of ink. In another, you might have to push or shoot a giant 8-ball to the exit, avoiding baddies and traps.

Another level plays out almost like Space Invaders, and another has you riding on the top of cars trying to take out foes without them seeing you. Some levels have bosses from the main game, only modified and made significantly harder – that toaster guy? What if he had snipers on his head and ink sprinkers on the sides?

Yet more variations include levels that are timed – shoot all the targets, collect all the items, or splat all the enemies before the clock hits zero. These have very little margin for error too, I found.

It’s incredible that Nintendo have managed to find so many more ideas to put into this mode, having used so many already on both Splatoon games. But then, this is Nintendo, and when Mario Galaxy and 3D World are literally overflowing with ideas, I suppose it’s not that unexpected. It’s worth mentioning how awesome the music is too, with this mode taking on a slightly 80s vibe which also styles some of the graphics.

Octo Expansion is harder than the original Splatoon 2 single player too, although finishing every level isn’t necessary like it is there. I’ve done about two thirds of them, and will probably go back to do the rest at some point. I know some people think I’m nuts for enjoying single player Splatoon more than online, but I implore you to spend some time on both Octo Expansion and the normal single player mode (if you haven’t already) because some of Nintendo’s best game ideas are here and it’d be a massive shame if people missed them.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Switch): COMPLETED!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Castlevania

Bought, played, completed. In under two hours. But this definitely not Castlevania is supposed to be short, and there’s supposedly more to be had from replays, so I’m not going to complain.

Not that there’s much to complain about anyway – it’s a decent platformer with some great bosses and a character swapping mechanic which (as each one has different skills) allows different ways of tackling rooms and reaching hidden areas and power-ups.

But it’s hard not to see this as a Castlevania game. As well as having the same graphical style as the original NES titles, one of the characters is basically a Belmont, as she wields a whip in just the same way. Another is clearly Alucard. The main character you start off as has a sword like Soma, but looks like Simon Belmont, and there’s a monk who admittedly isn’t much like anyone from that series. Then there’s the levels which try to distance themselves from Castlevania levels but there’s still the castle and although the baddies are different most behave just like Castlevania baddies.

The bosses, however, are very much new. And also very much easier than anything in a Castlevania game, although that’s not negative point – Castlevania bosses can be past the fun side of difficult.

If I’ve heard correctly, Curse of the Moon is a prequel to the full Bloodstained game which is still due to come out. If that is anything like this, then I’m all over it. Hopefully on the Switch!

Fairune Blast (Switch): COMPLETED!

Well this was a bit different. As a reward for completing the three other Fairune games in the collection, this little shoot em up is unlocked.

Taking its cue from the bosses at the end of the first two games, this is a full-on Pop’n TwinBee style vertical shooter, featuring enemies from the main series in formations, and miniature versions of the bosses as, er, bosses.

It’s fun, but very short and easy. I mean, sure, it is only a bonus game but when I started playing I was hoping for more levels and stuff.

Fairune Origin (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’m guessing here, but I think Fairune Origin is the original idea for a game that eventually became Fairune. It’s a very short, similar game with just 12 screens and a few puzzles which are vaguely recognisable as those in the “proper” Fairune.

Your girl is taller and thinner, the baddies don’t seem to require you to level up to beat them, and it’s all over pretty quickly. It definitely feels like a working prototype, and, I suppose, if you see how much improved Fairune 2 is over Fairune 1 then work backwards from 1 to this with the same leap it makes sense.

Not worth paying for, but a nice little bonus.

Fairune 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Perhaps the easiest way of describing Fairune 2 is “Fairune only more”. More enemies, more puzzles, more areas, bigger maps, more items, more on-screen, more lore, more everything. It’s a lot longer too, as it took me six and a half hours to complete – compare that to two and a half for the first game.

That all said, it’s pretty much the same idea. Bump into enemies to kill them, find items to open up areas of the map, look out for hidden paths and secrets, and Save Keys to Open Doors. There’s just, as I said, more of it.

I enjoyed it more too. Certainly, I spent even longer wandering the map(s) trying to reach areas I’d not been, but once you’ve levelled up enough there’s very little to kill you while you do this. In each of the three main worlds there’s a ring you can obtain which lets you walk on sand, water or ice, and as a result these create shortcuts and new routes. You even have to return to earlier areas with your new abilities. Metroidvania? Er, sort of. Maybe.

There are some really clever hidden-in-plain-sight puzzles (clue: keep an eye on the map!), and some really nasty hidden-a-bit-too-well areas. You absolutely have to keep your eyes open constantly – pillar or light layouts aren’t necessarily just incidental, they might be the solution to a puzzle. Examine every wall for unusual shadows or markings – it could be a secret path. Floor a slightly different colour or a tree trunk a different shade of grey? Might be a secret!

Great as these “secrets” are, unfortunately they’re not optional. You must find them all in order to progress, and it’s here the game falls down a little – especially in the final world where they’re even less obvious.

Still, Fairune 2 is a lovely little game and an absolute bargain in this collection on the Switch.

Fairune (Switch): COMPLETED!

A few years ago, I picked this up cheaply on the 3DS and quite enjoyed it. This week, Fairune Collection, which included Fairune, it’s sequel, and two other Fairune related games, came out on the Switch. Since I’d passed up on Fairune 2 elsewhere (mainly through Too Many Games) I jumped at the chance. And decided to played the first game again.

It looks a little silly on the Switch screen, with a huge amount of the area showing the map and inventory, but it plays exactly as it did before. Sufficient time had passed since last time I played it that I’d forgotten everything bar the premise (and that I needed to remember a screen had disappearing floor tiles), which probably explains why I still spent a lot time wandering almost aimlessly.

Still, I enjoyed it (again). Time to move onto the next game!

Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)

It’s widely known (he says, as a nobody on the internet) that I’m a massive fan of Hyrule Warriors. Not really the musou genre generally – just Hyrule Warriors. Such a big fan of it that I’ve put over 300 hours into the game across the four copies that I own. I thought the draw was mainly the characters from the Zelda series, but here’s Fire Emblem Warriors proving that to be nonsense.

On the face of it, Fire Emblem Warriors is a reskin of Hyrule Warriors. This makes sense, as it’s the same team making the same genre of game, but it’s very similar. Sure, the characters are different (although many are similar in how they play) and the levels are new (except most feel very much like remixed old levels), but it’s the same game. Isn’t it?

That’s what I thought. When I completed it I posted about some differences then, but having played for more than 80 hours now I’m thinking they’re even more separated. In fact, I think I might even like this more. Blasphemy, I know. Perhaps it’s the tactics, the directing commanders, the weapon triangle.

In terms of progress, having bought all the DLC, I’ve S-ranked 100% two of the scenarios in History Mode, S-ranked all of the “normal” (that is, non-time-distortion extra) levels in another two, and almost 100% S-ranked two more. I’ve then done almost all the level-70 and below missions in some other scenarios. I think perhaps I’m 75% there?

Certainly it’s a repetitive game, but no two levels are quite the same regardless of how similar they are. And it’s the best game.

West of Loathing (Switch): COMPLETED!

A black and white stick-man role playing game set in a warped version of the Wild West where demon cows attack and there’s goblins, skeletons and necromancy and folks make their fortune mining meat? I mean, it’s a cliche setup for a game already. How could it possibly stand above the hordes of other similar titles?

I jest of course because my god is this one strange, silly game. What with quests where you must find a bowtie, or round up some cultists, or get a lumber permit for a town from another town using the most repetitive (and intentionally so) amount of to-ing and fro-ing you can imagine. All the while facing standard turn-based RPG combat against terribly drawn creatures and bandits (and sometimes inanimate statues) where your array of weapons include a pistol you found in a toilet and a club fashioned from a cactus.

OK, perhaps not so standard.

It’s not weird for the sake of weird either. In the madness of the world it all, pretty much, makes sense. The humour is spot on, poking fun at wild west, RPG and stupid pointless quest tropes. It even sticks itself in the ribs many times. West of Loathing is a genuinely funny game, never forced – except when it is on purpose and it groans with you at the terrible jokes or puns. There’s a lot of text but it’s all worth reading. One-note remarks, jokes that half-hidden or implied, punchlines you see a mile away but occasionally don’t even come because they’re so obvious. Silly stuff, like how every bottle of sarsaparilla you pick up is spelt differently because who the hell spells it correctly the first time?

West of Loathing isn’t all about the chuckles, though. The game is a decent, solid play too. The RPG mechanics are basic but through the class and levelling systems there’s an array of perks and skills you can unlock, upgrade and make use of. I’m not sure this element (although a major part of the game) alone would make it playable, but with the world and humour it is elevated to something approaching genius. Too often “funny games” can be hilarious but terrible to play, or great mechanically but the wit is grating, but West of Loathing manages a balance of both. Even the graphical style – which looks like they’ve barely bothered to even try and draw a game properly – works really well. They’ve even added a colour-blindness option in the settings. For a game 99% in black and white. Amazing.